When Josh Nadel constructs a cocktail, he reaches beyond the bar and into the pantry. His Bellwether, for example, is built on red bell pepper juice punched up with cayenne pepper and chili oil. “There are a lot of savory food elements in the glass,” says Nadel, beverage director at the Dutch. “Even the earthy complexity of the reposado tequila.” He tempers those smoky low notes with lemon juice and Créole Shrubb, an orange liqueur enhanced with two types of rum and Créole spices, for a beautiful balance of acidity and heat, smoke and spice.
His second cocktail, Dutch Courage, could not be more different: A gin drink made with Genever, a Dutch spirit that has more weight than the typical Tanqueray or Beefeater, it is shaken with Mandarine Napoléon (a Cognac liqueur made with Corsican oranges), grapefruit and lemon juices, and—again from the pantry—marmalade. He salts only half the rim—”so you have a choice.”
Yet as different as the two cocktails are, both play well with chef Andrew Carmellini’s pristine oyster sprinkled with shards of spicy granite. Just choose your partner: Savory and earthy, or salty and citrusy.
11/2 oz. Herradura tequila reposado
1/2 oz. Rhum Clément Créole Shrubb orange liqueur
1 oz. red bell pepper juice
1/2 oz. agave nectar
3/4 oz. lemon juice
2 pinches cayenne pepper
3 drops chili oil
Place all ingredients except the orange slice in a cocktail shaker. Shake over ice and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with the orange slice.
Citrus Salt (recipe below)
2 oz. Bols Genever
3/4 oz. Mandarine Napoléon liqueur
3/4 oz. grapefruit juice
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1 tsp. orange or kumquat marmalade
1/2 grapefruit slice
Moisten a 1/2-inch rim of a rocks glass and dip into Citrus Salt. Set aside. Add the spirits, juices, and marmalade to a cocktail shaker, and shake very hard over ice. Strain into the rocks glass over a large ice cube and garnish with the grapefruit slice.
Citrus Salt: Using a Microplane or standard zester, finely zest grapefruit, orange, lemon, and lime, and combine 1 part zest to 3 parts Kosher salt. Use immediately or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
FRESH OYSTERS & BLOODY MARY GRANITE
3 c. tomato juice
2 tsp. horseradish
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
6 oz. vodka
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. celery salt
24 freshly shucked Wellfleet or Kumamoto oysters on the half shell
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the oysters and pour onto a rimmed baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap does not touch the liquid. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the mixture is partially frozen. Using a fork, scrape the mixture to create a slushy texture, then return it to the freezer until it is partially frozen again. Repeat the scraping process until the mixture is completely frozen and scraped, forming a granite. Spoon 2 to 3 teaspoons of granite on top of each freshly shucked oyster, depending on its size, and serve on a bed of crushed ice. Serves 8.